Less than 100 is all you need to know
A diagnosis of Acute Leukemia (or any Cancer for that matter) is a very scary and confusing time. You are bombarded by so many different things that you have no prior knowledge of and as such start seeking out sources to try and help you gain a better understanding. In the first couple hours and days (and truthfully including even years later), the mountain of questions of the unknown is continually growing. The ultimate question and summit of your mountain of questions is always the same for anyone going through this terrible process:
What are my chances for survival?
Unfortunately this one question can do so much more harm than good for someone going through something as terrible as Acute Leukemia. It is expected than when you are told you are going to die without medical intervention you are going to be curious about the odds for your survival. Naturally the first place we go for this information is the internet.
I am here to tell you this is a mistake, the internet is a wonder source of information, but in cases like this it can be overwhelming and destructive to the most important tool you have in your fight against your Leukemia; your positive attitude. It is so destructive because lets face it the stats on survival for Acute Leukemia are just terrible. It is one of the most aggressive and terrible forms of cancer there is. In addition, the protocol for treating it is extremely long and just as dangerous as the disease itself.
Now I am not saying don't research your disease at all. I am the biggest supporter of becoming educated on your disease. When I got sick I half joked that by the end of this process that I would know as much as my doctor's about my disease. Now this was half in jest but also half reality. I think it is so important to be educated, if anything else it allows us to prepare mentally for the extremely long and difficult battle that we have coming up.
But there is a big difference to researching your disease and focusing on the numbers for survival. To give a frame of reference, I myself made this mistake one night just before my stem cell transplant. Amy and I were on the couch watching tv and she had passed out so I decided to do some research on my "chances" on the internet. It was alarming how bad the actual numbers were; shocking in fact. The worst part was although I could feel it stressing me out internally and destroying my positive energy I just couldn't stop looking. It was almost addiciting in a sadistic sort of way. Thankfully I came across a forum of survivors. As soon as I saw that others survived this regardless of the odds it broke the spell the negative odds had on me and I closed my laptop and have never looked at odds since.
You see the only important thing we need to know when fighting a life threatening disease is if others have survived so too can you. This is the most important thing we need to latch onto regardless of how bad the actual number is. If it isn't 100% then others have survived, and so too can you.
The source of numbers like this are studies, and they are just that studies. There is no, and never will be a, study that is able to give you a true representation of what your personal chances of surviving something is because so many other factors involved that just what type of cancer you have. Take me for instance, I have no met anyone in two years that has the same cancer, Phildelphia positive bcell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, that is in the same age group as me. So for me to get hung up on survival statistics done on people that weren't even close to my age seemed silly. Sure they tell you that when your cancer is more rare you are higher risk, but I think part of that is just because they haven't seen enough cases to say much else. Remember it is all about statistics, if only two people have a terrible condition and one dies, the survival rate would be 50%.
So whenever you are faced with something that feels like it has impossible odds, take the glass half full approach; if others can defeat and overcome it, so too can you. Your personal attitude is more powerful than anything a doctor can prescribe so always remember to fuel and reinforce that attitude with the right type of positive thinking.